Thursday, June 3, 2010

Obamacare Topics Bubbling Forth

Obamacare topics are bubbling to the surface of my reading pile today.

First, in the Louisiana Senate today, HB 1474 is coming to a vote before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.  HB 1474 challenges the Obamacare mandate; it was passed in the House by a 59-15 vote and now goes before the Senate committee at noon today. The bill aims to protect the rights of patients to pay directly for their medical services rather than be forced into the mandate.

Since it's Louisiana, and since it's politics, something has to muddy the waters and that was accomplished by Rep. Fred Mills (D) who added an amendment that would bar the state from paying for hospital care of anyone who refuses the federal mandate.  No Charity Hospital for you, if you refuse Obamacare!

Mills explained his amendment:

"If you want this freedom, then you're on your own. ... You want your freedom? Don't come to Charity Hospital" for treatment.

Health Secretary Alan Levine goes to the Louisiana Senate today to explain the cost of Obamacare on the state to the Health and Welfare Committee.  According to NOLA, "he is expected to raise the state's price tag well above the $337 million to $536 million figure cited in [the Kaiser Foundation report].

Meanwhile, according to the latest CNN poll, 56% of Americans still oppose Obamacare.

And in other Obamacare news, NRO has an editorial today against Obama's Medicare Czar, Dr. Donald Berwick.  I've written about Berwick and his controversial views here, here, and here.  NRO opposes the appointment of Berwick:

It is to this crucial position that the administration has now nominated Dr. Berwick, a Massachusetts physician and an unabashed believer in centralized governmental power over the health sector. He has spoken and written in glowing terms about the British National Health Service (NHS), mainly because the NHS has a command-and-control structure in which the nation’s physicians and hospitals have little choice but to fall in line with the government’s orders. He boasts of the political power and cost control such a system provides, but papers over the deteriorating capital structure, rationing, and widespread quality problems that predictably follow when impersonal bureaucratic structures call all of shots. He affirms that a system for health-care financing “must — must! — redistribute wealth.” 

Remember, this is the man who said, "Less discretion for doctors would improve public safety!"

Karl Rove, in today's Wall Street Journal, outlines some of the rising costs of health care that are to come under Obamacare:

*  Americans would pay $120 billion in fines for not having adequate insurance coverage and that 14 million people would lose their coverage as rising costs led companies to dump it.

*  Sick people would face "high drug and device prices" and everyone would pay higher premiums.

*  The new health legislation would cost $115 billion more than estimated when it was enacted.

*  October will see the first round of Medicare cuts. Many seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage  coverage or at least some of their benefits under this program.

*  Drug and medical device companies are already making provisions for the new taxes that kick in next year. This means less investment in plants and equipment and smaller R&D budgets. Big layoffs, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, will result as companies confront this expensive new reality.

*  88% of companies plan to pass on increased health-care benefit costs to employees, 74% plan to reduce benefits, and up to 12% will drop all coverage for employees.

*  43% of employers that now provide retiree medical benefits are likely to reduce or eliminate them thanks to the new health legislation.

There's more at the link.

Add to all that the Daily Caller's report yesterday that the HHS has already missed four deadlines in implementing Obamacare and you have a glimpse of the future.  Who really believed the government could run this program efficiently in the first place?

Republicans have a golden opportunity in the upcoming elections to use Obamacare to leverage themselves back into office.  The bill remains unpopular, gets worse by the day, and Republicans seem to be blowing the chance to capitalize on that.

NRO had an editorial to this effect yesterday here.

Republicans ought to be seizing on each revelation to press the case for repealing Obamacare. It is, after all, the worst law the Democrats have enacted on Obama’s watch; and it is also the GOP’s best issue in this year’s elections. Instead Republicans have largely allowed the Democrats to switch the subject from their unpopular health-care legislation to financial regulation, oil spills, and immigration. They have been reacting to the news instead of trying to make it.

Republicans need to do a better job capitalizing on this. Rove cites a  Rasmussen poll from last month that reports 56% of Americans support repeal; 39% do not.

Don't let the Obamacare debate fall off the radar.  While we're worried about the Gulf, about Israel, and about the border (among myriad other issues), Obamacare remains a critical issue.

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